Seeing Amtrak’s Beech Grove Shop.
INDIANAPOLIS–The Cardinal, Amtrak’s train #50, left Chicago on time late Thursday afternoon and, despite running for what seemed like 20-30 minutes at slow speeds leaving Chicago, arrived here 16 minutes early. At least a dozen NARP members were on board coming here to Indianapolis for the Fall meeting being held on Saturday and Sunday.
The highlight of yesterday–Friday–and probably the highlight of the entire three days here was a lengthy tour of Amtrak’s Beech Grove Maintenance Facility. First of all, it’s huge. There are a half dozen buildings, each of which is the size of several football fields. In those buildings, workers are rebuilding diesel locomotives, restoring wrecked rail cars, and refurbishing coaches and sleepers. No job too big; no job too small.
Of considerable interest to everyone were the two Talgo train sets parked in front of the facility. These beauties, ordered by the former Wisconsin governor, Jim Doyle, were to be paid for with stimulus money from Washington and they were intended to run on a new rail line connecting the State Capital at Madison (also the home of the University of Wisconsin) with Milwaukee.
Unfortunately, the current governor, Scott Walker, who defeated Governor Doyle in the 2010 election, disdainfully refused the money … notwithstanding the fact that the building and maintaining of these train sets in Milwaukee would bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the community every year.
So Wisconsin never got the rail link to Madision and the train sets, brand spanking new and ready to roll, are sitting at the front of the property in Beech Grove waiting for a buyer. Talgo sued and of course they won, Wisconsin taxpayers will have to fork over almost $10 million as a result … and Talgo gets to keep the trains! That’s a helluva legacy, Governor Walker.